City-parish selling jewelry seized in missing drugs case
Bidding wars set to begin Friday in the city-parish’s first online auction of 2014 will feature a unique collection of luxury jewelry, which wouldn’t be available if nearly 50 pounds of cocaine hadn’t turned up missing from the evidence vault of the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court’s Office in 2012.
Investigators linked the jewelry — which includes a Rolex watch, a diamond engagement ring and a David Yurman topaz collection — to drug profits allegedly earned by William Bates Colvin, a former clerk’s office employee accused of stealing the drugs about a year and a half ago, said Prem Burns, the parish’s first assistant district attorney and handler of all drug-related forfeitures.
“It’s not that often that jewelry would be seized,” Burns said.
But in this case, Colvin used money from the sale of illicit drugs to buy the jewelry, which allowed investigators to make the seizure, she said.
Beginning Friday, anyone can bid on the luxury jewelry, along with hundreds of other items, including a wrecked ambulance and a pallet of typewriters, in the city-parish’s first online auction since September, said Patti Wallace, the director of purchasing for the city-parish.
Many of the items up for grabs are old office supplies and used cars. More exotic items include a nail gun, two pool tables, three defibrillators, five gas detectors, half a dozen golf carts and some speed-detecting radar guns.
The proceeds from items sold will belong to the city-parish, which has raked in more than $1.1 million since making the switch from live auctions to the online-only auctions, Wallace said.
“We are very pleased with the process of the online auction,” Wallace said.
Inclement weather is no longer a concern, participation has increased and the purchasing department is saving roughly $10,000 a year by not having to pay people to run live auctions, Wallace said.
In 2013, the city-parish earned nearly $850,000 in four auctions, more than double the $417,000 it collected from three auctions in 2012, according to records provided by the city-parish.
On Friday, bidding will open up for items viewable at www.municibid.com/batonrouge.
Bidding will close on Feb. 28, and those interested will have the opportunity to view most of the items at the city-parish’s surplus storage warehouse on South Choctaw Extension from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 19-21, according to the auction’s website.
Winning bidders will be able to pick up their goods between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. March 17-21.
Municibid, the Philadelphia website that operates auctions across the nation, has run Baton Rouge’s auction since the spring 2012, said the company’s CEO and founder, Greg Berry.
Berry said typically, as is the case in Baton Rouge, the government entity holding the auction keeps 100 percent of the sale proceeds generated by the auction. In addition, Municibid tacks on an 8 percent buyer’s fee for each sale, he said.
“With online…there’s a much larger audience of bidders,” Berry said. “The fee doesn’t have too much of an impact, if at all, on the bid prices.”